The best books about teenagers in love and lust

Patrick Cave Author Of Dying of Exposure: Oli
By Patrick Cave

Who am I?

Like all of you reading this, I am an infinite multi-dimensional being of incredible beauty and light with my own unique connection to Source! The answer to the question ‘who am I?’ (for anyone) is not to be found in all the constructs of identity we get encouraged to build, covering our brightness with ego and opinion and beliefs and values and supposed fragility where we are not in fact fragile at all. My book subject choice for this list, though, is all about our first steps into that weird and wonderful world of ‘relationships,’ fuelled by exploding hormones, romantic dreams, social programming and, somewhere underneath (underneath the inadequacy), a perfect connection with other.


I wrote...

Dying of Exposure: Oli

By Patrick Cave, Sophia Sheney,

Book cover of Dying of Exposure: Oli

What is my book about?

What do you do when you are 13 and someone texts you a topless selfie of the girl you secretly love… but the person sending it is not the girl herself? For Oli this event blasts his life and feelings into new territory as he works out the mystery of how the picture got to him and what it means, while also trying to keep all his shit together in the midst of a home that seems close to implosion. It is a starting point for new friends and a new sense of self.

Snapchat and social media and smartphones have added such a weird and difficult, chaotic dimension to love and sex; more pressures and more delusions. The starting point for this book was a real news story from Manchester.

The books I picked & why

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Stargirl

By Jerry Spinelli,

Book cover of Stargirl

Why this book?

Let’s start with something sweet, or bittersweet. A book about first love and whether one can break with conditioning and fears in order to join with a person who has touched our soul, our core, but who seems to live on a different plane altogether.

This American teen novel, so easy to read, is all about whether we can listen to the inner voice of delight or whether the need to show the right face to the world will win.

Stargirl

By Jerry Spinelli,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Stargirl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be an original film on Disney+ streaming service!

Before ELEANOR AND PARK, there was STARGIRL. The seminal life-affirming YA novel celebrating first love and self-acceptance - now in a beautiful new edition for the next generation of readers.

She's as magical as the desert sky. As mysterious as her own name. Nobody knows who she is or where she's from. But everyone loves her for being different. And she captures Leo's heart with just one smile.

STARGIRL is a classic of our time that celebrates being true to ourselves and the thrill of first love. A life-changing read…


Doing It

By Melvin Burgess,

Book cover of Doing It

Why this book?

Kind of to the other extreme now, and a focus on where the hormones and desires of three teen boys will lead them. Funny, painful, and unashamed, this story of sexual desire and clumsily finding a path where things often seem out of control is excellent. I thought of it when I was watching the hilarious Netflix series Sex Education recently.

Yet underneath the whole nightmare of where your private parts might lead you (especially if you are a boy) the questions are still there. How to be ‘true.’ How to ignore the judgment of others. How to hear clearly what we really desire.

Without getting those things right, relationships are always going to be trouble!

I was lucky enough to meet Melvyn on a book tour years ago. His teen fiction is always beautifully ‘in your face.’

Doing It

By Melvin Burgess,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Doing It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A much heralded, compelling sex story for teenage boys from this provocative writer. Melvin promised us all a 'knobby book for boys' during the astonishing publicity for Lady, his book that stripped all the sensibilities about sex from books for teenagers. This is it. Three teenage boys have a healthy interest in sex: Dino's girlfriend won't commit; Jonathon's biggest fan is very keen; and Ben gets embroiled with a predatory teacher. Put all these ingredients into an unsupervised teenage party, and allow to steam gently!

Snowfall

By K.M. Peyton,

Book cover of Snowfall

Why this book?

I have to be honest, K.M. Peyton is one of the best natural writers to draw breath IMHO and this beautiful and gripping story of a teen girl in Victorian England who seems destined to moulder away in a thwarted life, finding instead rebellion, wildness and love, is right up there with her best.

All books are for all people, of course, but this one (like many of her books) was marketed to teen girls in particular. Personally, I cried often, was moved and delighted by heroine Charlotte’s spirit and fight, and by the vital essence that runs through the story.

When true love comes, it comes, like an avalanche through our lives, beautiful and destructive, but who would not choose that?

Snowfall

By K.M. Peyton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Snowfall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a finely written novel of adventure and romance, K. M. Peyton presents an engaging cast of characters who choose not to be bound by the conventions of their time. As the small group of friends become intricately bound to and dependent on each other, they confront British class divisions, dangerous adventures, and the challenge of their hidden lives—and secret loves.


Stolen

By Lucy Christopher,

Book cover of Stolen

Why this book?

This disturbing and sensual tale of a teenage girl kidnapped and held by an obsessive young man was something I had to read in a day. The writing has a kind of D.H. Lawrence quality in that every part of the Outback landscape, every object and garment and exchange seems to vibrate with physicality and sexuality. The story is also gripping, a page-turner, and such a wonderful examination of where love and obsession meet, of Stockholm Syndrome and survival, and the jumble of feelings from the most animal to the most selfless that we all have to pick our way through.

Stolen

By Lucy Christopher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stolen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I was stolen from an airport.

Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used
to.

Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected
me to love him.

This is my story.

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken
to the Australian Outback.

Ty, her captor, is no stereotype - he's young and attractive.

This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning.
He loves only her, wants only her.

Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world
outside, can the force of his love…

The Love Poems of John Donne

By John Donne,

Book cover of The Love Poems of John Donne

Why this book?

At one point I was going to go for Romeo and Juliet as it is such a great study of young teens being in love with the idea of being in love, choosing the forbidden, and living in the moment/living without thinking (you decide!) no matter the cost. But then I decided to go for the Donne instead.

Donne would have started writing his love/sex poems when he was a teen himself and in an age when it was deemed normal that young people’s thoughts turned to these matters during puberty. Perhaps more than any other writer he can encapsulate in only a few lines everything from the most ‘out there’ and ridiculous persuasion used by a young man trying to get his would-be girlfriend to ‘do it’ with him (as in "The Flea") to a kind of ideal for love that seems as perfect as it can get, as in "The Good Morrow," which gave me the title of one of my dystopian thrillers:

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

Donne sees it all. Love and sex in beings who are earthy and physical, who are ethereal and light, who are both selfish and selfless and who are for their brief time, gloriously alive, given the power to interact at the quantum level with the fabric of a world through the vessel of body and mind.

The Love Poems of John Donne

By John Donne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Love Poems of John Donne as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a collection of the love poems of John Donne (1571-1631) who is regarded as one of the greatest of the English metaphysical poets. The son of a merchant, he studied at both at Oxford and Cambridge, and later at Lincoln's Inn. He secretly married Ann More and took holy orders in 1615.

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